A good reputation can take years to nurture, but only hours to overturn

Managing reputation is critical in today’s world with the ability of news to break in minutes and being reproduced globally in an equally short timeframe.

With a very tough environment experienced by Fortune 500 company Microsoft in the past 10 years following Department of Justice investigations in the US and similar probing in the EU, corporate reputation is of paramount importance.

The power of reputation can be summed up in a joke, according to Ricardo Adame, corporate communications director at Microsoft Central and Eastern Europe. “What’s the similarity between politicians and flies – you kill both with newspapers.”

Speaking about the “super strong powerful position” of the media, Adame says it only takes one thing to go wrong for cataclysmic consequences to be felt both at a business and personal level, with reputation on both fronts left in tatters.

“Reputation is absolutely critical. Today there are over a billion PCs in the world using Microsoft technologies one way or another. How many people start their day looking at the brand as they turn on their computer? The brand is super strong and is extremely visible.”

The challenges facing Microsoft to maintain its strong reputation and brand stem from three areas: Business practices, product quality and geopolitical issues and competition.

“Crisis management really triggers your instincts. It requires bold decision making in a very short time and moving very quickly to protect the brand and the reputation of the company. X-box has been a great platform for Microsoft to increase and reinforce our positive reputation lately,” remarks Adame.

The PR professionals at the company are so-called the guardians of the brand, he explains. “Corporate communications can really help a company drive business. Helping bring trust with key stakeholders is important – making sure people feel comfortable doing business with you, feel comfortable buying from you, developing your technologies, in the case of Microsoft.

“Developing stories through all the various media and social networking outlets help build an emotional connection with key stakeholders. Then you will have a positive business environment where people will want to engage with you, software developers are willing to bet their business on Microsoft technologies. It’s really making a sustainable business where you build an environment of trust and of connection.”

Adame was a speaker at the marcus evans PR and Media Effectiveness Conference held in Barcelona on 7 and 8 October.